Obviously, the title of this article is a joke but it came to mind after a couple of recent experiences shared with us by Vortex customers. It was funny that, when comparing their measurements against our synthetic data, the latter was considered the benchmark instead of the former. This seems to go against what is natural.
As explained in my article “On the limitations of modelled wind maps and ‘on-ground’ measurements”, both measurements and model results are only “pieces of the picture” that helps us understand the very complex phenomenon of atmospheric behaviour. We, specialists, are lucky that, although both models and sensors have their own limitations, they complement each other well in such a task.
The latter is especially true when talking about offshore wind resource prospecting. Even after the irruption of floating LIDAR technology, wind measurements at sea are still scarce and expensive. Using models, which normally perform better over water, is a good way to extend measurements and explore large areas which would otherwise be poorly characterized.
We cannot disclose our customers’ feedback but let me share with you the publicly available literal (anonymized) transcription of a Vortex customer text that exemplifies the above:
” … resource in the project area is assessed on the basis of the available LIDAR measurements published by ***** and a 10 years VORTEX synthetic time series …
… the analyses between the three sets of data shows that VORTEX ERA5 data reflects very well the LIDAR measurements …
… the comparison with VORTEX mesoscale data, indicates that the LIDAR wind speed data is of high quality. Nevertheless, it should be noted that **** has not inspected the LIDAR.
… therefore, and since the received installation report does not include specific information about north mark alignment of the LIDAR, it has been decided for this study to use the VORTEX wind direction …
… results demonstrate that the VORTEX ERA5 data captures very well the actual wind speed measured by the LIDAR including the level, seasonal variations and distribution within one per cent accuracy. Hence, based on the above results, it is decided not to carry out an (MCP) substitution of the missing LIDAR data … instead, VORTEX data is directly used … to estimate the long-term wind resource at the **** project site.”
No, we do not really think that “Fiction is the new Reality” but it is clear that, when model results and measurements show coincidence, this helps wind engineers to increase the level of certainty or, at least, to decrease the high sense of uncertainty of our everyday work.